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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 January, 2004, 10:42 GMT
Studios 'sue over movie piracy'
Mystic River
Mystic River is among the movies allegedly pirated
Warner Bros and Columbia film studios have reportedly sued an actor and a man arrested for allegedly distributing movie preview tapes over the internet.

They have filed complaints in court in Los Angeles against actor Carmine Caridi - an Oscar voter - and Russell Sprague, The Hollywood Reporter said.

The studios claim the men infringed copyrights by copying and distributing copies of the films on VHS and DVD.

Films involved allegedly include Mystic River, The Last Samurai and Big Fish.

Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai
The Last Samurai is also named in the lawsuit
Mr Sprague, 51, of Chicago, has already appeared in court charged with conspiring to violate copyrights on films after being arrested by the FBI.

The case involves the alleged pirating of so-called "screener" preview tapes supplied to Oscar voters.

According to the Warner lawsuit, Caridi made the films available to Mr Sprague - and possibly others - for unauthorised and illegal use, distribution, exhibition and duplication.

After receiving the films from Caridi, Mr Sprague illegally duplicated, exhibited and distributed the films in violation of Warner Bros' exclusive interests, the suit added.

In an FBI affidavit, Caridi has denied knowing that Mr Sprague was duplicating the tapes. Mr Sprague has described the charges as "baloney".

Warner Bros and Columbia are asking for compensation or minimum payments of $150,000 (81,000) damages from the defendants for each unlawful use of copyrighted material.

Studios 20th Century Fox and Disney said they were also considering whether to take action after their films were allegedly found in Mr Sprague's possession.

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